Last week New Hampshire lost two young university women to suspected Ecstasy or MDMA overdoses.  We offer our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these women.  Such tragedies highlight the problems we face of drug use and addiction in New Hampshire and serve as a call to action to do all we can to prevent the physical and emotional harm that result from substance use and abuse.

Drug and alcohol use and abuse are problems that take both human and economic tolls, and with appropriate investments in prevention and treatment, we can reduce their impact.  New Hampshire ranks among the top states in alcohol consumption and illicit drug use and in the top 5 for marijuana use for people age 12 and older.  One in 10 adults aged 18-25 report dependence on or abuse of illicit drugs, including marijuana.  (Source )  Twenty percent (20%) of teens have abused prescription drugs.  According to the N.H. Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, in 2009 more N.H. citizens died from drug overdoses than car accidents.   A report by New Futures,  a local organization whose aim is to advocate, educate and collaborate to reduce alcohol and drug problems in New Hampshire, indicates that excessive alcohol consumption costs New Hampshire more than $1.15 billion annually in lost productivity and earnings and increased expenditures for health care and public safety costs.  The most recent New Hampshire data from the Bureau of Alcohol & Substance Abuse was just released today.  Read report    As a state, we need to do better.  

While there are community interventions that need to happen, there are steps we can take in the office, like screen for substance use and abuse, educate our patients about the risks and offer treatment for those with substance abuse disorders.  In addition, we need to do more to ensure that prescription drugs are not diverted to the community.  To learn more about what we can do, I invite you to attend two upcoming CME activities that are co-sponsored by NHMS:

Prescribing Opioids: Managing Risk, Best Practices, Public Policy & Tools.  October 10, 2013, 7:30 a.m. to noon, Concord.  Read more

Out from Under the Influence: Keeping Patients and the Public Safe from Medication Intoxication Thursday, December 12, 2013, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., DHMC, Lebanon.

Improving our practice and getting out into our communities with health promotion activities are important steps to reducing alcohol and drug problems here in New Hampshire.  What will you do to make a difference on this issue?

Please send your questions or comments to president@nhms.org or post a comment below.